Somare slams treatment

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FORMER prime minister Sir Michael Somare, pictured, says the treatment of refugees on Manus by the PNG and Australian governments lacks human dignity and respect.
Sir Michael said he had raised the issue of inhumane treatment while in parliament but was accused of being party to the Australia and PNG plan to set up the Manus detention centre.
“I want to make it clear that when I took office in 2002, there was already an arrangement in place on Manus for boat people who had fled their homeland destined for Australia,” Sir Michael said.
“As the prime minister at the time, I honoured the arrangement of the previous government but once the processing was completed, my government put a stop to this so called Pacific solution.
“Australia is party to the United Nations Convention on Refugees and opted for a solution that has been unsatisfactory to Manus people, PNG and the refugees of the Manus detention centre.”
Sir Michael said Australia had a large enough developed economy that should be addressing their problems on their own shores.
“To exploit the vulnerabilities of neighbours like PNG and Nauru is disgraceful enough but to treat human beings with complete apathy is ruthless and insensible,” he said.
“These are human beings whatever their religion, gender or persuasions, and they should be afforded basic human dignity and respect.
“To decide to throw out the detainees on the streets of Manus is unacceptable.
“The onus is on Australia to ensure that the integration of the refugees into PNG is effected properly.”
Sir Michael said he was sure that many of the refugees were skilled people and with the right assistance can adjust well into the communities.
“Australia must provide support for refugees to integrate.”

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